ZIM Helps Spanish Growers Export Citrus to Canada
Jorge Gelabert, Sales and Commercial Manager, ZIM Spain
The production of citrus in the EU is concentrated in the Mediterranean region, with Spain being one of the leading citrus producers. Citrus production is located in Comunidad Valenciana (CV), the most important area with the longest citrus-farm tradition, followed by Catalonia, Murcia, and Andalusia. In fact, citrus production in Valencia accounts for the largest portion of its agriculture trade balance. The harvest season runs from September-October until April-May, depending on the variety.
On the flip side of the coin, Canada is one of the biggest importers of citrus in the world, which it imports mainly from the United States, Spain, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Greece and Turkey.
ZIM’s strategy to focus on citrus exports from Spain to Canada dates back to 2014, when the company made a decision to target that market with the local Valencia products. Since then, 2018 was a record year in citrus exports transported by ZIM reefers, and 2020 is expected to reach even higher levels. The main fruits exported are mandarins and kakis (persimmons), followed by oranges; we are currently planning to add lemons to the mix.
To provide excellent customer service, both ZIM Spain and ZIM Canada put at the disposal of the exporters and importers a superb team of experts that provide 24/7 flexible support. These teams are backed by sales specialists in citrus and reefers, who develop the business in each country and make sure that the highest quality fruit reaches its destination in the best possible conditions. In fact, this is a cross-organizational, international effort with a local touch.
Although this may seem like a relatively simple export, it’s not without challenges. Timely response times is perhaps the biggest. During the peak season, it is crucial that we ensure the optimum condition of the cargo from source to destination and that the customers are happy.
Teamwork and coordination are the name of the game. In Spain, sales are in charge of preparing and signing the agreements; customer service is ready to answers any questions the customers may have; operations arrange space on vessels and containers at the port; logistics ensures the depots and equipment required for each shipment are ready on time, and engages with trucking companies to ensure timely loading (which many times is last minute). In Canada, their counterparts do the same coordinating between Halifax, Toronto, and Montreal, and with the end customers.
With all teams working in unison, like a well-oiled machine, ZIM provides fast, reliable service that is constantly being praised by our customers and gives us great advantage in this unique market.